At least 13 persons,including a woman and a videographer of a national news channel,were injured as police on Friday opened fire,lobbed teargas shells and used batons to chase away violent youths demanding the release of jailed separatist leaders.
While a 38-year-old woman was hit by a bullet and was stated to be in critical condition,the rest were injured in pitched street battles which broke out shortly after Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid and spread to adjoining areas in downtown Srinagar,official sources said.
Police resorted to firing when teargas and baton failed to restore law and order,the sources said.
The trouble started when several hundred people,mostly youth,tried to take out a march in support of their demand for the release of separatist leaders and resorted to stone-pelting when police stopped them at Islamia School near Rajourikadal.
The clashes spread to nearby Gojwara and Nowhatta and 13 persons,including five policemen and a videographer of a news channel,were injured,the sources said adding among them Shaheena,a resident of Gojwara,was hit by a bullet while she was watching the clash near her house.
Shaheena was hit by the a bullet in her neck and was taken to Soura Medical Institute where her condition was stated to be critical,the sources said.
Dozens of prominent separatist leaders were arrested in the run up to assembly elections last year but most of them,including JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik and Moulana Shoukat Ahmad Shah,were released.
However,some of the leaders,including executive members of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan,hardliner Masarat Aalam and JKLF leaders Mohammad Saleem alias Nanaji and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bita Karate,continued to remain under detention.
Activists of Democratic Freedom Party (DPF) staged a demonstration outside Dastigeer Sahib shrine at Sarai Bala in the heart of the city after Friday prayers,demanding the release of their detained leader Shabir Ahmad Shah.